Bridging the gaps
How policy-makers, grassroots-providers,sports bodies and health professionals could benefit from collaborating
Answer: Go on a DIET (see more below)
Increasingly, we are experiencing two serious gaps that are affecting how we fund, develop and deliver community sport and physical activity.
One is the gap between our policy-makers/strategists and the people and bodies who deliver at the grassroots level. The other gap is the one between those who deliver community sport and the health sector.
Policy-makers and grassroots-providers need to engage
Often policy-makers/strategists are working in splendid isolation from the groups whose lives they are trying to improve and, and as consequence, produce strategies and policies which are less effective than they could be. We experience many cases where policy-makers then run consultation processes to engage their stakeholders, but in most cases, it is ‘the same old’ who turn up at those consultations – this may explain why many of those policies are not getting the results that were expected. And, why we don’t learn and improve.
At the same time often grassroots providers, many of whom do a brilliant job often do not understand, or even bother trying to understand, how the strategists think and operate and therefore get left out when it comes to deciding on strategies and allocating funding.
It’s no good to say, ‘we are doing good work here, so give us some money’ and to be in constant campaigning mode and not be in a dialogue with the policy-makers.
Sport and health need to develop a better understanding
Often people involved with sport, whether as volunteers or staff, do so because they love their sport and are struggling to understand why the rest of society, and especially health, can’t appreciate the work they are doing and why it is so difficult to attract the funding they feel require.
We also experience coaches who feel that their quest for their under 11s football team to win the league deserves free pitches, subsidies, etc. because ‘it is a good thing’. And no other questions should be asked. There is a lot of focus on performance and pathway and not enough on participation, and the latter is exactly what the health people are focusing on.
You can almost say that community sport is having a ‘battle of the Ps’ as illustrated below;